Roasted Butternut Squash

Sunday, 29 January 2012

I roasted some butternut squash!  That’s it... well not quite, it was going to be soup... then I ate it off the baking tray.  It was too close to lunch, I needed food, my stomach was growling, my temper was simmering, I needed to eat and so I did, standing over the oven just after I took these photos.  It was delicious.  Sometimes the simplest things are the best.  Next time I’ll make the soup, I promise. 
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 200°C.  Using a large sharp knife cut the squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds.  Cut the squash in to slices and place on a parchment lined baking tray.  Rub with olive oil and roast for about 40 minutes until the flesh is golden and tender.

Quark it Baby!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

When I bought this tub of Quark it was destined for greater things.  A cheesecake to be precise but that didn’t happen...I can sometimes be a little lazy.  The Quark sat in the fridge waiting patiently for its biscuit base.  It waited to be whipped together with cream cheese and lemon zest.  It waited and waited until two weeks had passed and the use by date loomed.  I always seemed to be missing some vital ingredient.  One week it was the butter required to make the biscuit base, the next it was the cream cheese which somehow got eaten.  My laziness and inability to buy all of the ingredients required to make cheesecake resulted in this simple yet delicious pudding.

Quark, for the un-initiated is a soft fresh cheese.  It is similar in taste to natural or greek yoghurt so feel free to use that instead if you prefer.  Quark is low in fat and high in protein so it’s pretty healthy stuff.
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food. 
Serves 2
1 x 250g tub of Quark
150g frozen berries (I used blackberries from the glut we got this summer)
Pour the quark or yoghurt in to a mixing bowl and stir.  Fold in the frozen berries until they begin to streak juice through the quark creating a ripple effect.  You can either serve it straight away or let it chill in the fridge for a few hours which allows the berries to soften.  The original recipe suggests stirring in icing sugar and lemon juice but we found it really didn’t need it with the sweetness of the fruit.

Double Chocolate Chip Chilli Cookies

Monday, 16 January 2012

Ok, first of all, yes the cookies are on a plate which has a picture of a cat on it, a slightly sinister looking cat if you want my opinion.  Something about the face don’t you think?  Also, yes, I purchased this plate in the cold light of day.  Admittedly it was in a sale, I like it, I’m fine with it. I think it’s just a one off, I’m not planning on making a habit of buying plates with animal pictures on them...

Anyway, this isn’t about the plate, it’s about the amazing chocolate chip cookies on the plate.  It’s about the amazing cookies whose main ingredient apart from the luscious dark chocolate is... black beans!  I kept hearing about super healthy black bean brownies, intrigued I tried making them, they weren’t good so I gave up but then I saw this recipe for black bean cookies.  I decided to give the black beans a second chance and I’m so glad I did.  They are chewy, rich and oh so chocolatey.
You can get the recipe here from My New Roots including lots of helpful information about just how good for you black beans are so you won’t feel too bad indulging in these cookies.  I used chilli flakes as I didn’t have any cayenne pepper.  I also used cranberries instead of the cherries.  Enjoy!

Kale Pesto

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

So its January, grey, grey January.  I’m really not a fan of this time of year.  January, February and March just feel too long, too cold, too grey.  I know, I’m really not helping by pointing this out.  The other thing about this time of year..?  We’re supposed to be healthy, even though all I want to do is hide under the duvet eating chocolate biscuits.  We’re supposed to be thinking about getting fit and eating salads but it’s cold outside and salad is about the last thing on my mind.  I couldn’t resist making this kale pesto though, it’s healthy, warming and can be rustled up in the length of time it takes to boil the pasta, the perfect week night dinner.  When I think about pesto I usually think of basil and pine nuts and summery things, this makes a great winter version and the toasted walnuts work really well with the kale.  I am always on the look out for kale recipes, I try to sneak it in to lots of our dinners this time of year much to my husbands chagrin.  When I made this pesto he ate it, I’m not saying he said, “wow” or “yum, give me seconds” but he did consume kale with only minimal complaint.  This is progress.  As a word of warning I would say go easy on the garlic.

Recipe from Shutterbean
Serves 2
1 small bunch of kale (about three stems) I used Cavolo Nero
100g (4oz) gluten free pasta
25g (1oz) toasted walnuts
½ to 1 garlic clove (seriously, go easy)
25g (1oz) parmesan cheese
Squeeze of lemon juice
Approx 50ml or 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil
Steam the Kale for 5 minutes then transfer to a colander, rinse with cold water then squeeze out any excess water.  Place in a food processer or blender.  Add the walnuts, garlic, parmesan and lemon juice and blend until smooth.  With the motor running add the olive oil.  You may need extra here, you will have to judge as to the consistency of your pesto.
Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the pack instructions.  When ready drain and return to the pan.  Add the pesto to the pasta and a little water if the pesto needs to be loosened.  Season and sprinkle with parmesan to serve.

Almond Hot Chocolate

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Today as I stood waiting for my train in the early morning darkness being battered by the wind, my book pages flapping about madly as I tried to read, I could have done with a cup of this hot chocolate.  This hot chocolate would have cheered me up but the possibility of someone on a train platform handing me a cup of almond hot chocolate in my favourite owl mug is pretty unlikely don’t you think?  Hot chocolate is a tricky customer for us gluten free types.  Instant hot chocolate mixes can contain gluten.  I know, I suffered in my first few months of gluten free life.  The ironic thing is I had it in a cafe that served me a slice of gluten free chocolate cake (hot chocolate and chocolate cake, such is my devotion to all things chocolatey).  As a result I ended up becoming a little bit wary of hot chocolate but I missed it so I decided to experiment with my own at home.  This couldn’t be easier and you can use which ever type of milk you prefer.  I chose Almond milk because I thought the nutty taste would pair well with the chocolate but regular milk would work well too.  Good quality dark chocolate is also full of antioxidants and almonds are high in calcium so it's healthy as well as a treat.

Serves 1
2 squares of good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
1 cup of almond milk (or milk of your choice)
Your favourite mug
Put the milk in a milk pan and heat gently.  When the milk is beginning to simmer around the edges add the squares of chocolate to the pan and stir.  Pour in to your favourite mug and enjoy.